The secrets of the Casa de les Punxes ceramics

The Casa de les Punxes stands out on Avenida Diagonal for its monumentality and unique style. One of the elements that stand out, apart from the reddish colour of its facades, are the Punxes characteristics of the building. Also at the top of the house are the well-known ceramic panels of the Casa de les Punxes, one of the decorative wonders of Enric Monserdà. Inside the house, other ceramic jewels are hidden waiting to be discovered. In this article we will make a compilation of the most significant ones.

  • Ceramic panels

The ceramic panels are one of the most impressive decorative details of the Casa de les Punxes. The panels are the exterior decorative element that reveals that the Casa de les Punxes, despite looking like a unitary building, is divided into several houses. At the Casa de les Punxes we can find five panels, two in Josepa’s house, one in Àngela’s house and the other two at the house of Rosa. In all of them, we can see symbols that indicate the relevance of each one of the houses to the three sisters, except in Saint George’s panel, in which we find a hidden reference in the architect of the house. In the next article of the blog we will learn more about the symbolism of these panels.

 

ceramic Casa de les Punxes

 

  • The Punxes

The Punxes majestically crown the Avenida Diagonal. On the main facade of the building, which overlooks Rosselló Street, we find a Punxes of a larger size than the others, which breaks the symmetry of the house. All the punxes are covered by ceramic tiles in the shape of scales. Those are made by hand and therefore are imperfect and even have different shades and colors.

These ceramics are attached to the surface of the tower one by one and lime mortar is used as a fixture. This allows expansion according to temperature without the structure being altered. Their arrangement allows to highlight the dome shape of the punxes. These scales are very delicate, so they have been restored several times following the traditional procedure. Here we can see a process of creating similar ceramic pieces. Also, noteworthy are the glazed ceramic pieces which, placed on the tiles, act as a link between the two sides of the roof. These stones are signed by J. Arpí. This indicates that they could be materials manufactured by the craftsman from Lloret, Pere Arpí Garí, with whom Puig i Cadafalch worked on some previous project.

 

ceramic Casa de les Punxes

 

Technicals innovations in the ceramic “Punxes” of Casa de les Punxes

Puig i Cadafalch applies a technical innovation in the punxes. In these, he uses iron to be able to collect, channel and divert the loads (internal and external forces) towards the foundations. On the one hand, Puig i Cadafalch uses reinforcement belts (made of iron) that act as containers for the forces and help to alleviate the flow of loads. As far as ceramics are concerned, we find the rings or strips of ceramic brick that work under pressure forming the internal skeleton of the tower together with the metal belts. In this way, the weight of the turn is perfectly channelled and distributed.

This constructive revolution is remarkable in the biggest Punxa, in which it takes the structural advances to a maximum extreme. The metallic structures are no longer supported on columns, but hang by means of metallic strips that work by traction. That transmit the loads of all the weight to the circular ceramic brick perimeter, making them work in compression. In this way, the floors of the towers “float” as they do not distribute all their weight on the perimeter walls. They are held in place by the metal strips working in traction.

 

ceramic Punxes interior

 

  • Ceramic tiles

In the Casa de les Punxes the ceramic tiles of its main entrances are well known, and we can also see them under the balconies of the facade. The majolica tiles, designed by Antoni Maria Gallissà, had been used before in another building designed by Puig i Cadafalch for the Terradas family: the Sobrevia farmhouse. He also used this same majolica in the Palau Macaya, as part of the decoration. The tiles, although independent, have a design that allows them to be combined to form another joint design.

 

Majolica ceramic

 

Did you know all these ceramics from the Casa de les Punxes? If you found it interesting, we recommend you also read the following article about the symbolism in the ceramic panels of the Casa de les Punxes.